It was a beautiful day in spring. The skies were clear and coloured in different hues of reds and oranges, the colours bleeding together and painting the picture of a beautiful sunset. The birds accompanied this moment with the last song of the day, getting ready for the evening to settle in and finally to go to sleep once darkness arrived.
One lone figure stood at her window in the Castle of Arendelle silently watching this peaceful scene unfold. She raised her hand, fingers trailing down the cold glass, tracing the last sunrays that illuminated her dorm. A heavy sigh left her lips as she couldn't help but watch this day come to an end.
No matter how beautiful everything looked, painted in the vibrant colours of the sunset, she wished the light of the sun wouldn't go away, yet.
It reminded her too much of how the light of her life had disappeared, just like the sunlight was about to fade away.
And she wasn't able to do anything about it.
She couldn't slow down time much less even stop it. And of course, she couldn't turn back time either, no matter how much she wished she could.
Or else she would've reversed everything. She would've begged her parents to stay at home, to not go away. She would've tried to make them see how pointless this journey was, how dangerous...
... and how much she needed them...
... so much...
... oh, so much.
Her hand began to tremble and she pulled it away from the window. For a moment everything blurred together, colours, shapes and forms, turning into a new, moving picture, an everchanging dynamic composition, making her heart beat faster and her head swim.
For a second, she forgot how to breathe.
Then it all passed. She blinked back the tears and the world returned to normalcy.
At least for now.
For it was weeks after the funeral of King Agnarr and Queen Iduna. She remembered that day as if it was just yesterday. No matter how much time passed, she doubted that the memories of this day would ever fade away: The cold air surrounding her and chilling her to the bone. Fog reducing the environment to muted dark colours as if nature itself was mourning as well. She could never forget the sombre expressions of the people, their heads tilted down, to pay their last considerate remembrance for the deceased couple.
There was now a void inside of her, that opened, once she realised, she would never see her parents again. Never talk to them again. Never laugh with them. Never hug, never spend time together, never ever hear or see or hold them ever again.
The first time she heard the news about their tragedy, she couldn't believe it. The words wouldn't reach her. And there was still that foolish belief that maybe there was a misconception. Maybe, if only she waited long enough, they would return back home.
But once the preparations for the funeral started, it slowly dawned on her, that perhaps it was true. That they would never come back.
And when the day finally arrived - when she was standing there between the gravestones, listening to the last prayers for her parents - she understood, what had become of her life, now. They were truly gone.
This realisation had left her with a feeling of emptiness. She couldn't cry then.
But she did, once she locked herself inside her dorm. It had felt like her heart was being torn apart, agony stretching on forever.
She had cried for the broken memories and the treasured moments.
She had cried for the missed opportunities and the now inaccessible possibilities.
She had cried until no tears would form. Then she had lied down exhausted and stared up at the ceiling.
Days would pass like this.
She had never felt more alone.
It was oh so much worse than when Elsa had shut her out. It was as if she had not known true pain before that.
Thoughts of Elsa stirred other emotions inside of her besides grief and sadness.
Anna usually avoided thinking about her sister, but sometimes she couldn't help herself. She thought about how she had stood there in front of everyone leaving room for one more person besides her. Until the very end, she had hoped that Elsa would come, stand by her side and they would mourn together. All that had happened between them would be forgotten and they would start over again. They would offer each other solace, get through those hard times and finally be strong together.
But that fragile daydream had shattered as soon as the funeral was over.
Later on, when Anna had wandered around the castle aimlessly, she had come by Elsa's door. She had stopped short and stared at it for a while until she finally approached it.
She had knocked once. Twice. She had even called out her sister's name but to no avail. There was no response.
And then, suddenly, something else had awakened inside of her. A raging fire was set ablaze, which had left her standing there, shaking with barely contained anger.
After all those years of being shut out, being ignored or being sent away and no answers, no explanations, nothing ever but silence and cool indifference-!
She could've at least left her room for once and gone to the funeral of their parents, like everyone else! If she hated her that much, she could've just ignored her like she always did! But to let something as pathetic as hatred get in the way-!
Did she not care about the death of their parents at all?!
A sound had made her stop short in her silent raging. It was muffled and barely audible but she still heard it.
A soft cry. Followed by a sob.
Her anger evaporated, for shame to replace it immediately. Guilt had overwhelmed her, making her leave in an instant.
How could she?
How could she ever think something like that?
How could she let those ugly words run wild inside her mind?
What right did she have to accuse her older sister of such atrocious things when she was grieving as well?
They had been their parents after all.
Disgusted with herself the redhead had put as much distance between that closed door and herself as possible.
Ever since then she hadn't tried to approach Elsa's door much less even to talk to her sister. There was no use hoping for the impossible especially since she was still afraid of her own thoughts and emotions.
She wrung her hands, her throat suddenly burning, almost choking her, as memories flood her mind. Memories of a lost childhood, of shut doors, disappointment and loneliness.
It had not always been like that.
There had been once light, warmth, laughter and openness.
But no matter how hard her parents had tried to fill in the void that Elsa had left behind, they were never able to replace her. Over time they had become distant themselves leaving her alone more frequently until she was forced to entertain herself. She had found herself spending days in the library, losing herself in daydreams and imaginary worlds.
She wished she would've spent more time with her parents instead of wasting it away like that.
Pretending like she was left behind.
Wallowing in self-pity.
Running away from the truth, into silly fantasies.
Well... actually, not so lonely after all.
In the darkest and coldest days of winter, a shadow had emerged to haunt the night. Being very curious, she couldn't just stay away and had to investigate... Which had landed her in a whole lot of trouble.
She remembered being so afraid back then as a child. Trying to stay safe, somehow managing not to give up although nobody had believed her, leaving her to her own devices. Somehow finding the strength and courage to face that creature of darkness, again and again, every night. In the beginning, it had visited frequently, subjecting her to her worst nightmares, taunting her, making fun of her efforts to fend it off, making her feel hopeless and powerless.
Leaving her with one question: why her?
Wasn't it bad enough that her sister had shut her out and her parents had become distant?
Of course, she wouldn't wish what she had experienced back then upon anyone. She had wanted for it to just stop.
Sometimes the creature would disappear for months making her hope for it to be over. But once she started thinking that it had all been just a nightmare, it would come back to haunt her. It would stay as long as it took to make her believe again. Believe that the monster hiding under your bed or your closet, the nighttime terror, was, in fact, oh so very real.
But as she had grown older, she had started to think more rationally. She had started to question things, her desire to truly understand growing stronger each day.
In her time of loneliness, she had realised that this creature of the dark was her only companion. A frequent visitor from the outside world.
The only one.
Aside from her parents and the staff, he was the only one who knew more about what was beyond the castle walls. She had had a feeling that he had travelled a lot, seen places that she could only imagine, knew things that just a selected few had probably the knowledge of and maybe had even seen the whole world. He could travel through the shadows, commanding them to his own will, was able to slip in and out of the castle undetected, had power over the most horrendous nightmare and seemed to enjoy the taste of fear. And on top of that, he stayed invisible to everyone.
Except for Anna.
A spirit of the night out to spread fear and terror and to wreak havoc wherever it went.
She had known back then that it was a terrible idea - a dangerous one even! - to try and find out more about him.
And over time she did.
Slowly but gradually she had found the courage to actively seek him out, to ask questions even though she had been scared out of her mind by knowing who she was dealing with.
But her curiosity was so much stronger than her fear.
She couldn't help herself. She just wanted to know.
As the years passed, she had gotten used to his presence and even learned his name: Pitch Black.
Even until this day, he stayed an enigma to her. He was always so unpredictable, calm one second, then changing his demeanour completely in the next one. She seemed to walk on eggshells when it came to him and his shifting moods.
It didn't stop her from waiting for him though whenever he disappeared again for months.
Of course, she could understand that he had to fulfil his duty. Already she knew that she was not the only child who got visited by him frequently. She had learned the legend of the Boogeyman and had realised that it had been him all along.
She had also learned that fear was not only there to scare one out of their mind but also to protect. To protect from the dangers of the world, from very different kind of monsters and from one's own foolishness. Preventing carelessness to grow and making one cautious and more considerate, making a person overthink their rash decisions again.
That was the very first lesson she had learned and once she had understood that, she had started to view him differently.
Whatever they had back then she could hardly call friendship. Companionship was maybe a stretch, but they had been more than mere acquaintances certainly. True they had come to a kind of an understanding. It had been far harder to make her afraid of him once she had figured out that he wouldn't harm her.
In the end, it had been her belief in him that made him always come back to her.
Sometimes, when the night was peaceful and he was in an exceptionally good mood, she would use the opportunity to ask him about everything she wanted to know. And after a lot of persuasions, he would, begrudgingly at first, tell her stories about the outside world, where he had been, what he had seen. He spun the most incredible tales, leaving her awestruck and yearning to visit all those places.
He was an immortal being so he had witnessed far more than any human being would ever be able to in their whole life.
So full of desire to explore the world, she had snuck out several times and had even left the castle grounds. Once her parents had caught wind of what she was doing, they had made clear that she was never to do such a thing again. They had increased the number of guards even going so far and positioning one outside of her room.
That was the first time she had argued with her parents. It had been a fierce argument back then.
Remembering it made her regret all those hurtful words she had said to them.
Nonetheless, she had been able to break the rules with the help of a certain dark being. Not only would he tell her stories about those wonderful places he had visited he would sometimes even take her there. Show her the beauty of the world and make freedom tangible if only for a moment.
She had seen so much, travelled so many times without her family knowing.
The last time she had gone to a foreign land with her dark companion, she had been eleven years old.
Ever since then she had not seen him again.
That was a long time ago.
Enough time to start doubting whether it had been real. Whether it had not been just her imagination.
It had felt so surreal like a whole different world.
Shaking her head, she tried to chase those thoughts away. It would not do well to dwell on this.
Yes, she had been a child and her imagination tended to be overactive back then, but she wouldn't be able to conjure something like this up.
Someone like him.
And those places she had visited, the things she had seen... It was impossible to dream so realistically about something she had never seen or experienced before.
She didn't even know where this doubt had come from nor how it had crept up on her.
Well, these past weeks hadn't been so easy on her...
Before she could slip away into her musings again, something startled her. She wasn't sure what it was - only that it made chills race down her spine. Otherwise, there was little change in her surroundings. Only this strange feeling deep inside of her remained...
Suddenly, there was a shift in the air and immediately she knew the cause of it.
After such a long time...
Without turning around, she began to speak: "You know, on evenings like these I am reminded of the first time we met."
A strange cold passed her and within the blink of an eye, he stood right beside her, gazing out of the window and watching the last rays of sunshine disappear for good, making way for darkness to settle in. Strangely fitting considering who he was and how he arrived here.
This time she looked up to him. He still didn't spare her a glance, so she took the opportunity to study his profile: his aristocratic features, his all-too-familiar spiked jet black hair, his almost ashen skin... and finally those striking golden eyes that were trained upon her now, waiting for her to answer.
The corners of her mouth lifted up, forming a smile. "Have you forgotten already? It was just as quiet and peaceful of an evening as it is now. I was scared nonetheless when you suddenly materialised out of nowhere!"
His lips twitched in amusement, seemingly remembering this particular incident. "Ah yes, your scream was very delightful back then."
"Well, excuse me, I had every right to be frightened!" She abruptly turned around to face him, hands resting on her hips, trying and failing to glare up at him. "I was still a child!"
"Too bad you stopped fearing me." All traces of amusement left just as quickly as they had come, leaving an unreadable expression behind.
Her playfulness faded away, making room for uncertainty and a little awkwardness, this being their first meeting after such a long time. She was very aware that her trying to reach out for the past to lighten the moment was only a guise. A lot had changed, including herself. There was no way in going back to how things had been before. No way in bringing back what was lost.
"You've been gone for four years," she blurted out the next best thing that had come to her mind. Breath held in anticipation, she waited for his reply. There were so many questions she wanted to ask: where he'd been, why had he been gone for so long, why come back now...?
At first, he didn't answer. Just looked back out of the window again and appeared to be lost in thought. "Four years...," he breathed, his voice so faint she almost didn't hear him.
In moments like these, she was reminded of his immortality. Time passed differently for him and four years probably didn't matter that much to him as they did to her. She changed, aged, while he stayed the same.
"Time flies, doesn't it?" she asked her voice wavering towards the end. She hoped he didn't notice that, so she continued quickly: " I mean, I can't believe that four years have passed as well! It feels just like yesterday when we travelled so far away... but at the same time so much has happened... or maybe time seems to pass so quickly because of all the things that happened... well, I don't know about you but a lot has happened to me... uhm, that came out wrong, I don't mean to say that nothing remarkable happened to you because I'm sure you have a lot to tell - sorry I'm rambling, I know..." Embarrassed she clamped her mouth shut and turned slightly away to hide her blush.
She had made a fool out of herself, and she wouldn't hold it against him if he were to leave now. There were so many things she wanted to say, but she was afraid of further embarrassing herself.
It took her completely by surprise when he said the following: "My condolences for the loss of your parents."
All of a sudden her mouth went dry and her breath hitched. Slowly, she raised her head, her eyes shimmering with emotion. "What?" she croaked, voice almost gone.
"I was there at the funeral," he answered his face darkening slightly.
For a moment she was speechless. Inside her mind, she kept flipping through her memories, searching for any sign of him: a shadow out of the corner of her eye, a dark figure looming behind all those people, almost invisible, something, anything at all.
Nothing. There was nothing.
She knitted her eyebrows, betraying her confusion. " But I didn't see you."
" You didn't," he confirmed in a clipped tone. "Otherwise, you wouldn't have walked right through me."
All colour drained from her face, and she felt her heart sinking. She knew exactly what that meant. After all, he had told her once, why some humans could not see him. Why it was mostly children that were aware of his presence.
She was no child. Not anymore.
"Pitch, I-I am so sorry... I..." Words failed her. She didn't know what to say, how to explain. It was so glaringly obvious what was happening yet she could not and would not allow this to be true.
There was no way.
He scoffed. " It is not like you can do anything against it, much less apologise for it. It was long overdue for you to forget-"
Her head snapped up eyes ablaze for the first time in a long while. "I will not forget you!"
A strange calm had settled over his face. For a moment there was only quietness before he spoke again: "You've already started."
Again she felt that fire rise inside of her. There was simply no way! She didn't want it to be true!
"But I remembered!" she shot back refusing to believe his words.
"No, not temporarily!" It drove her mad to see him barely react. He looked at her as if she was only a child that was having a temper tantrum. As if she was pushing away the truth because it didn't suit her view on things. " I won't - you hear me? - I won't -"
She cut herself off covering her mouth with one hand to stifle a sob. Teardrops escaped her eyes, and she angrily brushed them away.
Maybe it was true. Maybe she was just having a temper tantrum. It certainly looked like it.
But how was she to remain calm? To find out that Pitch had been there with her and she hadn't been able to see him... because she had started to forget...
Just the thought of it was unbearable. After all that she had lost: her sister, who had started avoiding her one day, her parents who had died... she could not bear to lose somebody else. Not the only one that was left. Not her companion. Not him.
There was no way!
A sudden fear gripped her, and her hands began to tremble. And in the blink of an eye, her words of defence died inside her throat. The spark in her eyes diminished and her shoulders sagged forward in defeat.
There was no use making promises she couldn't keep, even though she wanted to. There was also no use arguing about this. After four years of waiting she hadn't anticipated their reunion to be like this.
She swallowed. "Where were you? At the funeral?"
Silence descended upon them. It lasted far longer than usual, making her doubt that he was still there. A glance upward proved that he hadn't left yet, his eyes meeting hers in a solemn gaze.
"I stood right beside you."
He watched as a new sheen of tears clouded over her turquoise orbs. She turned away from him, hands covering her face fully now, trying to hide away her emotions.
Seeing her like this was strange and disconcerting.
He remembered her as a happy and bubbly child that just wouldn't stop pestering him with questions. Despite her loneliness, she had managed to keep her sense of wonder, a beacon of light amongst the gloomy air surrounding the castle. After his many attempts to snuff out that light, and failing at it, he had given up. It had grated on his nerves back then, that she had always managed to walk out of the darkness that he created unscathed, even shining brighter than ever afterwards.
But now... so much had happened to her. And most of it was a series of very unfortunate events. Four years was a long time for her after all.
He noted that she lacked the usual fire, resembling a dying ember. She gave up far too quickly. After losing her parents she drowned in sadness, turning solemn and quiet in the process. The black garment she was wearing, only served to underline this change of hers.
She grew up so quickly. It was no surprise that she had started forgetting.
He should have seen that coming.
A strangled sound ripped through the silence, making him focus on Anna once again. A shudder passed through her, making her shoulders shake.
Before he knew what he was doing, he had reached out, his hand resting gently on her arm in a comforting gesture. For a moment she froze at the unexpected contact, then she relaxed.
All of a sudden she was in his arms, grasping tightly at the fabric of his coat and burying her face in his chest. She had put all the restraint aside and finally broke down. Little hiccups left her as she allowed herself to cry.
Although surprised, he did not push her away. Slowly he reached up and embraced her, knowing that she needed to hold on to something. Even if it was him.
There was not much he could do to stop her pain. But he could at least provide her with what little comfort he could give.
Decision made he drew her even closer, one hand resting at the back of her head. "Hush, now," he whispered as he called forth his shadows and made them spread out throughout the room, filling it in and making it increasingly darker. They slowly made their way towards them, swallowing all the light in the process and making it hard to see anything at all.
That at least he could give her: solace. For darkness was known to hold every little secret and to be there when light deserted everyone. It was always there, never going away, and it was his constant companion. It would embrace her if he willed it to do so and would hide away all her pain and her vulnerability.
And that was exactly, what he did.
Faint whispers filled the room, Anna being the one who disrupted the quietness once again. "I am so sorry, Pitch, so sorry. I will not forget you. I won't... I can't..."
And although there was no guarantee that she would be able to keep her word he decided to not press the matter. Instead, he answered just as softly: "I believe you."
The shadows finally reached them, climbing up the walls, covering the ceiling and finally swallowing them whole, hiding them away from the world. Once they retreated back to their original state, Pitch Black and Princess Anna of Arendelle had vanished, leaving the room empty and cold.
I really tried my best!
But I am not a native-speaker so feel free to give me constructive criticism. I am sorry for all the mistakes I probably made ^^